National Audit Office: people with special needs are left on their own when seeking support

4/18/2024 | 11:00 AM

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TALLINN, 18 April 2024 – Adults with special needs are left on their own when seeking support; therefore considerably clearer guidance for them is needed, the National Audit Office found in a review published today. The Ministry of Social Affairs should significantly reduce the fragmentation of the social welfare system and eliminate the need for people to runaround between different agencies.

“A person in need of help doesn’t have to be a specialist in the social welfare system,” said Auditor General Janar Holm. “If a person doesn’t know what help is available, where to get it and how to get it, they’re likely to miss out on it.”

The access to help is restricted because the support system is split between the healthcare, social welfare, and work ability subsystems. Services have similar names, they are offered on different conditions and partly to overlapping target groups from three different systems. Also, those who provide support don’t have a coherent picture of a person’s real needs and the assistance already offered.

“The Ministry of Social Affairs should reorganise social welfare system in such a way that it’s not the person with special needs who has to find their way in different subsystems, but there is a trained specialist to guide them to the necessary place. This specialist should have access to persons’ relevant information,” said Janar Holm. The National Audit Office believes that journey to support can be shortened if two similar and parallel systems – the assessment of work ability and the determining the severity of disability – were merged into a single assessment of capability.

Another problem is that a person has to have his or her situation assessed repeatedly in order to receive support. Furthermore, these assessments are mostly used to establish whether the persons’ situation makes him or her eligible for the support; the assessments do not guarantee that help is designed to match the individual needs of a person. Also, the situation where a person must provide the local authority with data that he or she has already provided to the state should be excluded. Repeatedly describing one’s situation and making several requests for support is not a treatment that respects persons dignity.

The National Audit Office considers that special attention should be given to the journey of getting to support, since it is an important part of the overall state’s support system. The review revealed that although the Ministry of Social Affairs is currently planning several minor changes to social welfare system, it has not undertaken any reforms that would help reorganise the system in any significant way.


The report of the National Audit Office focused on the journey of adults (i.e. people aged 18 or over, who have special needs) in getting social welfare support. The report covered special needs regardless of whether they had been determined by the Social Insurance Board or not.

The National Audit Office prepared two reports on the basis of its audit “Activities of the state and local authorities in supporting people with special needs”. The report published today focuses on the state’s activities in the area of government of the Ministry of Social Affairs. The report, which will be published next month, focuses on the activities of the local authorities in supporting people with special needs.

Priit Simson
Communication Manager of the National Audit Office
+372 640 0777
+372 5615 0280
[email protected]
[email protected]

  • Posted: 4/18/2024 11:00 AM
  • Last Update: 4/17/2024 11:31 PM
  • Last Review: 4/17/2024 11:31 PM

Repeatedly describing one’s situation and making several requests for support is not a treatment that respects persons dignity, says National Audit Office.

Margus Ansu / Postimees / Scanpix

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